The folks from the HLPA are ready for summer! With a fairly average winter snow and cold-wise, ice-out on the lake was normal – on Easter Sunday April 16th, about on schedule and the same as most lakes in central New Hampshire. Ice-in was Dec 16th so there were 126 days of coverage.
Quick recap: The Loons returned on Easter Sunday, and are sitting on an egg or two as of this writing, and should hatch some time before the 4th holiday. There also appears to be a family of eagles around the lake as well. Per the request of Donna Hartwell Baker and with the support of her family, the HLPA funded and installed a sign kiosk at the boat ramp this spring and cleaned up the sign clutter on the tree. Once again, the 2016 annual test results report from DES came in and the lake is holding steady by most measurements, with their summary report stating the following for last summer:
Recommended Actions: “Lake Chlorophyll and phosphorus levels have remained within a slightly lower (better) range since 2012. This has led to improved transparency or water clarity during that period. PH levels also seem to be increasing (improving) since around 2009 and is likely the result of long-term impacts of the Clean Air Act and reductions in emissions from coal burning power plants which has lessened the impacts of acid rain in New Hampshire. Drought conditions in 2016 likely helped to keep phosphorus and algae growth low and improve clarity due to the lack of storm water runoff from the watershed. Periodically, following storm events, tributary phosphorus and/or turbidity levels have been elevated and the increased frequency and intensity of storm events highlights the importance of managing storm water runoff in the watershed. DES’ “New Hampshire Homeowner’s Guide to storm water Management” is a great resource for homeowners. Keep up the great work!” The entire DES report for Highland Lake, and all lakes, is viewable online at: des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wmb/vlap/annual_reports/2016/lake-reports.htm.
The HLPA welcomes all members of the community who are interested in protecting and celebrating the beauty of Highland Lake, particularly those living within its watershed. Not just impacted by shoreline activities, any activity within the defined watershed boundaries of Highland Lake can ultimately impact water quality. Membership in the HLPA is a good way to get to know your fellow lake residents and demonstrate your support for keeping Highland Lake a clean, safe and healthy place to live and play. The HLPA Board urges non-members to consider joining, with dues for 2017-18 only $15.00 per person!
What your membership supports: The HLPA runs a volunteer water monitoring program to closely follow the quality of our lake water where samples are collected monthly, and volunteers drive samples to the DES lab in Concord for testing. We provide and maintain the Porta-Potty by the boat launch. We maintain the boat ramp signage alerting visitors of rules and regulations on the lake. We support protection of our loons and bald eagles, and encourage invasive weed monitoring programs.
The activity schedule for summer 2017 starts with our annual ice cream social fundraiser at the East Andover Fire Station on Saturday, July 1st beginning at 7 PM. The lighting of the flares around the edge of the lake is next on Monday July 3rd. You will again have the option of ordering solar powered lights instead of the traditional flares. July 4th will feature a wacky boat parade around the lake starting at 4 PM on the west shore, with a $50 cash prize for the best decorated boat.
HLPA Schedule of Events Summer of 2017: Ice Cream Social, Saturday, July 1, East Andover Fire Station; Lighting of the flares, Monday, July 3, all around the lake; Boat Parade, judging for best decorated boat, Tuesday, July 4, gather on the west shore, to begin procession around lake perimeter.
Water Testing at Highland Lake
The VLAP Program volunteer for Highland Lake is Earle Davis who performs monthly lake testing for monitoring the lake quality. He will continue the regular sampling throughout the summer as part of the state’s Volunteer Lake Assessment. Monthly, samples are collected at many points around the lake and brought to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) labs. The samples are run through a variety of tests indicating how healthy the lake is.
Our testing has shown that while they have been holding somewhat steady, we always have to be careful about rising phosphorus levels. High phosphorous levels can cause blooms of cyanobacteria, which can be fatal to pets and livestock if ingested. One of the most common sources of phosphorus is erosion from the shore around the lake. We’re hoping that everyone will do their part to protect the lake. As a reminder, here’s a list, taken from the NHDES web site, of things that you can do to help limit the amount of phosphorous going into the lake for both shoreline residents and anyone within the watershed boundaries.
Maintain your septic system properly. Pump out your septic tank every 3-5 years, or whenever the sludge level exceeds one-third of the tank capacity. Be sure your system is designed to handle the load it receives. A leach field should be increased in size whenever the frequency, seasonal to year-round, or volume, additional people, washing machines, etc., of use increases. Check your leach field for soft or wet areas or septic smells.
Do not bathe, shampoo, or wash boats, pets, or other objects in the lake with soap or phosphorus containing detergents. Do not wash automobiles near lakes or streams where the detergent can run into the water.
Keep land clearing to a minimum by maintaining a buffer zone of natural vegetation along the shore to contain erosion. Roads and paths leading to the lake should be curved to reduce erosion. Tree cutting must be approved by the NHDES, per recently enacted laws, for 250 feet margin from the lakeshore.
Do not use fertilizer near the lakeshore, or only non-phosphorus fertilizers.
Do not burn brush or leaves near the shore, the nutrients remain behind to be washed into the lake during the first rain. Do not dump leaves or grass clippings in or near the lake. They also add nutrients to the water.